Saturday, July 17, 2010

Finding Forty, Day 51; Missing You (Repost)

 I wrote this in February, on my mom's birthday...

She didn't make chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes, on a lazy Sunday, she'd emerge from an afternoon nap wanting something sweet to eat. On those days, she'd whip up a quick batch of "No Bake" cookies. No Bakes, as we call them, are a delectable concoction of chocolate, sugar, butter, milk, peanut butter, oatmeal and vanilla. In less than 15 minutes, we'd find her spooning them onto wax paper spread across the kitchen counter, alongside the piles of junk mail and the disheveled Dallas Times Herald which she always favored over The Dallas Morning News. Rarely did we wait for the cookies to set. Instead, we'd each grab a spoon, scoop up a cookie and just let the warm, gooey mess melt in our mouths.

She liked sweets, but her tastes weren't all that discerning. In the junk section of our pantry you'd often find moon pies, which she liked to eat warm from the microwave, Oatmeal Creme pies, and Pop Tarts. I wonder if today's more available exotic treats like thick bars of dark chocolate or chocolate covered almonds would appeal to her. My guess is no.

Frills and finishing touches weren't her style. Growing up, I always hated that. I wanted her to care about things like fashion, name brands, current trends, girly things. Even when she was sick, it bothered me that in her whole life, she'd never had a pedicure. She would have protested, but I should have taken her to get one during one of my visits to see her. At the very least, she could have been pampered for an hour. At best, I would have had an hour of time with her to talk and take in her essence.

I never knew and never got to find out if she did less, took less for herself because she actually wanted it that way or if she felt like extravagances such as shopping in department stores rather than outlet stores was her way of making sacrifices and being frugal. I think she wanted it that way.

When she wanted to spend money, she would. She loved going to the "boats" in Bossier City or flying out to Vegas for a weekend of gambling. I know at those times, she spent heartily and happily.

She wasn't the mom of my storybook fantasies. In many ways, she didn't even seem very much like me, her firstborn, who somehow developed a love of shopping, fashion, rock music, standing out. It never caused much problems for us, but certainly made me feel like a bit of an oddball. For my one and only date in high school with my massive crush, it was my dad who took me dress shopping. When I went to my Senior Prom, we bought my dress off the clearance rack at JC Penney's.

Different in those superficial ways.

What I've grown to realize is how much we are alike in several ways that count.

She smiled through her tears. It was her weak attempt at conveying she was fine and it rarely, if ever, convinced. She was a crier. In moments of passion, her voice would crack and you could hear the tears in her throat before you saw them slide down her face. Much like her, I cry often.

Headstrong, she was. I've grown to realize that I can be too. Her emotions ran full throttle. You knew when she was angry, happy, disappointed. But, as strong as she was, she was also incredibly fragile. She possessed a tender heart, a heart that was shattered into pieces. Yet, she rose above her pain and emerged better for it. That gives me hope.

There is so much about her I miss. I miss her olive skin, next to mine so pale. I miss the shape of her fingernails, cut with clippers but never filed smooth. I miss her wrinkles and her soft, kisses that tasted like cigarettes. I miss digging for gum in her purse, her silly singing in the kitchen, our daily phone calls and her Liz Claiborne perfume. I can't see a Dollar General without thinking of her and the crap she loved to buy. I hear her in country music and see her in scratch off  lottery tickets. She never had the chance to win big and she so deserved it.

But, what I miss most are all the things I never got to know.

I remember a song from long ago that she loved, but I could tell made her sad. It was "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond. Looking up the lyrics today, I weep for a woman who was moved by a song, but as her daughter, back then, I could never understand.

I wonder what wisdom would she have shared as I raise my boys? What lessons in life had she learned? Was she who she wanted to be and had life turned out as she hoped? What, in the end, were her dreams and had they come true?

I can't ask. She can't tell. Well, maybe she can, but I keep listening and can't find her or hear what she is saying. I won't give up though.

In death, she taught me how to live. I realize the way I go about it seems odd to some, questionable, crazy perhaps, and even I don't know what the hell I'm doing from day to day. But, her being gone makes me feel time like never before. I know that if I don't reach out and grab life, it slips away.

Today she would have been 65 years old. As I type, a candle flickers near me. I will make a wish for her, for me, for life.

There's also a good chance I might make a batch of No Bakes tonight too.


  1. Excellent post, Kate. Very moving! What a tribute to your mom. You should show this to as many people as you can. It's really stunning--so honest and right-on. It also strikes me as more outward-looking than some of your other very inward-looking posts. Maybe you should look outward (upward, and forward) more often. You obviously have strengths there. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Thank you. It feels good to look upward. I'm really gonna give it a fair shot!

  3. Lovely post. My mother died three years ago and I think I haven't yet fully processed my mixed emotions. You've inspired me to write about her...well, at least think about what I
    might write that is positive. So far it's only been the dark stuff.

    I wondered why are you especially missing her now?

  4. Looking back at this now, I realize that I wrote a letter to my father on my blog not long after first reading this. It might have helped plant the idea. Thank you.